CwF + RtB in the Drumming Community

Spirit and Groove’s Instagram presence is being established as a community of drummers to share their beats, ideas, drum-pinions, and grooves.  Check out our recent promotion video.



We do this because: (1) we totally dig drummers and want to spend as much time as we can hanging out with people who are generally more happy than anyone else; (2) it is part of our marketing plan, which is founded on the Connect with Fans + Reason to Buy (CwF + RtB) model.


Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor coined the term CwF + RtB during his post Napster career. Like those around him in the music industry, Reznor needed to find ways to create his own stream of revenue without the assistance of major label deal money that had disappeared with the collapse of physical music sales.


CwF + RtB is one of those methodologies that is so simple it is complex (or we make it so). Basically, you build a fan base and then give them reasons to buy into your brand.  The math totally makes sense.  If you have a loyal fan base of 10,000 fans and you get them to spend $100 per year on your brand. You earn $1,000,000 per year.


I would say $1,000,000 per year is a good chunk of change for any small business and one that is completely reachable if your foundation fanbase is world-wide and within a supportive niche. This is why we chose it for Spirit and Groove.


Plus it is a REALLY cool way to build a company.


I mean, we totally dig this. For the first years of our business we have to concentrate on connecting with, watching, listening, and learning from drummers.  For a drummer, what could be better?


So, if you play the drums or like to groove. Connect with @spiritandgroove on Instagram and tag us in your groovy videos. As of the publishing of this blog, we are within 200 followers of hitting 10K on our feed and when we do that, we will celebrate with deals and monthly contests where community involvement will be the key indicator of how many drum tees we give out and whom earns that drumming clothing.





Buddy, Berklee, and Big Swing Face… a Lesson in Fundamentals for Musicians.


Buddy Rich Big Swing Face

I have listed to a lot of music over the years…I mean a lot. One of my favorite albums is Big Swing Face, a live album recorded over two nights by The Buddy Rich Big Band in 1967. There are a number of reasons that I enjoy this record. For one, it stars the indisputable king of drumming, Buddy Rich. Second, it is a big band album and as a drummer who has driven thirteen to eighteen piece swing bands, I can attest there is perhaps no greater challenge to the craft of the instrument. Each section of a big-band pulls/pushes time differently. Trombones, due to the difficult nature of their instrument, will pull. Trumpets, with their top of the spectrum tones and quick staccato, will push. As such, the drummer must control those fluctuations, all while reading and matching hits with each section.

Buddy Rich was a master of this.

He was also one of the hardest bandleaders ever to walk this earth. He berated, threw tantrums, and regularly fired band members for the simplest of infractions. If you want to hear just how rough Buddy was on his band mates, and if a whole lot of swearing doesn’t offend you, take a listen to The Buddy Rich Bus Tapes and be mortified by his leadership style.

However, before you cast judgment on Buddy, do two things. First, remember that Buddy always gave at least 110% on the stage night after night right up until the end. Don’t believe me, watch this video from 1982 when the drummer reportedly had a heart attack during his solo on the last song and still finished the set. Second, take another listen to Big Swing Face. This album is virtually flawless in every regard from time, to phrasing, and intonation. These musicians nailed their takes live without the aid of computer software to fix their mistakes or enhance their sound in post-production. The latter is a very important lesson when it comes to making music.

Garbage in…garbage out.

I was first introduced to this phrase during a late night recording session at Berklee College of Music in the mid 90’s. At that time, we recorded to tape and ProTools was still in the early adopter phase and not available to anyone with a computer. The option to fix takes later wasn’t as simple as it is now. Luckily, all Berklee students (including those in the production and engineering program) must undergo intense fundamental courses in ear-training, harmony, and private instrument studies so they know how to make musicians sound better BEFORE they are patched into the board. They understand that the fundamentals of the craft will always trump technology.

So why am I sharing this story?

Now that I work behind the stage booking entertainers I hear a lot of excuses, especially from those of the younger generation, as to why they aren’t sounding their best. The monitors weren’t right. The room was dead. The engineer doesn’t know what he is doing. We would sound better with our equipment…with our engineer. Truth is, the excuses are sometime so relentless that it gets me thinking that it could be the outside environment and not my musicians. Then I cue up Big Swing Face and I am reminded that nearly fifty years ago sixteen musicians could perform some of the most complex music live. Record it and wind up with an almost flawless album all without today’s modern technology as a crutch. Swing Face teaches me to constantly listen beyond the front of house and focus on the musicianship happening on stage. To seek out entertainers who are good at the fundamentals of their craft. The singer who knows exactly how far her mic should be from her mouth. The DJ who can match keys and tempos as well as beats, and the drummer who can swing a group of multi-time musicians into shape. I know that if their fundamentals are on point, the rest of the show is simply enhancing those skills, which is much easier for all involved and the key ingredient to a stellar performance.

Adele…25…and the Four P’s of Marketing


And just like that… Adele’s 25 is already breaking records. With just three days under its belt, the Brit-singer’s highly anticipated album has sold 2,433,000 copies, surpassing the 2,416,000 of NSYNC’s No Strings Attached release in 2000. Even more impressive is just how huge this album already is in its first week when compared to some other superstars. Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 sold 968,000 copies its first week, Taylor Swift’s Red sold 1,208,000, Britney’s Oops!…I Did It Again sold 1,319,000, and Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP sold 1,760,000.

So how is it that 25 will outperform some of the music world’s brightest stars, during a time when we are all constantly reminded that the industry as a whole is underperforming? Is it Adele’s musicianship and song-writing prowess? Is it the new distribution mediums available? Is it social media and a new era of viral-promotion?

In all actuality, 25’s success comes in the nearly perfect integration of the four P’s of marketing. Interestingly, her marketing mix, as complex as it may look, is made quite simple by her unique musical ability, which has driven demand in a way that has allowed her label to control a few key elements and thus boost demand in an era when record sales are hard to come by. To understand how it all plays together, let’s look at 25’s release from the perspective of these fundamental components of marketing.

Product: At the core of any marketing mix is the product. The better it is, the more opportunity it offers the other elements of the recipe on which to build. There is no doubt that Adele brings to the table a strong product in 25. This is made evident by both the overwhelming industry accolades and sales success of her previous album 2125’s predecessor won three American Music Awards and seven Grammy’s including Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Pop Solo Performance along with a host of other trophies. It climbed to number one on virtually every pop chart around the world at one time or another and has remained on many since its 2009 release selling over 11 million copies in the U.S. alone to date. While music tastes are subjective, this is pure empirical evidence that Adele has a strong product on which to build her success.

Promotion: The success of 25’s promotion lies in the consumer adoption cycle of 21. Adele’s previous album remained on many charts and continued to sell while the artist went into hiding, had a baby, and started her next release. When looked at from a product adoption cycle perspective, it could be argued that 21 had just started to enter its decline phase, thus leaving the bell curve peak of its 11 million plus consumers anticipating a new product from the artist. This would be between 90 and 95% or about 9.9 million persons chomping at the bit for a new Adele album and may help explain why her first single Hello had over 27 million views during its first day on YouTube. This was enough to prompt the conversation by the global press if Adele’s upcoming release would match its predecessor and ignite a viral outbreak on social media to help make that happen.

Place: Adele’s product quality and promotional power allowed her team to control her places of distribution, which has become a vital component in the modern recorded music marketplace. Today, more and more customers consume their music through either a digital distributer such as iTunes or an online streaming service such as Spotify with the latter providing diminished returns for the artist and their management team and requiring more movement to count as an album sale (1,500 streams = 1 album sale). However, due to decreased promotion and demand drivers, many artists must release to both channels to break through increased noise in the market. This “necessary evil” comes at a huge cost in regards to physical album sales. Luckily for Adele, the huge demand for her latest product has allowed her team to forgo releasing her tracks to streaming channels, which has ultimately doubled demand for her physical unit sales and defended another element of her marketing mix – price.

Price: When you achieve a product that is relatively price/demand inelastic, it is safe to say that the other components of your marketing mix are singing in harmony. This is exactly the case with 25. You can’t stream 25 yet and nobody seems to care…or even complain. Many will buy it because they know the product is worth the price. Others will buy in so they too can be a part of the conversation or to contribute to the success of a superstar who doesn’t really seem like a superstar. Either way, Adele’s musical ability has fueled a promotion powerhouse that could be properly manipulated by her management team, which ended in increased sales in an industry where that doesn’t really happen too much anymore.

Strategic Analysis of Live Nation Entertainment



The following paper was the final deliverable for my MBA strategic management course at Southern New Hampshire University. The purpose was to analyze the macro-level strategy of an organization of our choice.  For ten weeks, we explored how that strategy impacted virtually every aspect of the firm from their financials to their competitive position and H&R practices. I chose to put my experience as a booking agent and undergraduate degree in music business to good use and analyzed the top promoter in the world – Live Nation Entertainment.

My analysis of Live Nation Entertainment revealed an organization executing a well-crafted strategy to vertically integrate the unique value chain elements of their main concert business. As a result, the company has catapulted past their competition in the U.S. concert and event promotion market as well as the global online ticketing industry where they hold commanding market shares in each. Despite this success, there is much more opportunity for the company to grow…almost an entire planet.  I touch upon management’s future plans throughout the paper and offer my own insight as well.

Jeremy Larochelle’s Strategic Analysis of Live Nation Entertainment

Lessons from a Mexican Restaurant


The other day I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch.  It is a quaint little “mom and pop” shop that makes some great food, has an awesome atmosphere, and plays great Latin music.

I noticed they had a sign by the cash register that said:

Join Our Email List

Get 20% Off Your Meal

Get Great Coupons and Chances to Win Prizes

That sign made me realize that so many artists offer me nothing to join their email lists, and you know what?…It greatly reduces the chance I will.

Seems my homegrown Mexican entrepreneurs know more about marketing than most entertainers.

Musicians undervalue the power of the email list.  It is a direct connection to your consumers. It is a way to tell them about your new album, so they buy it. Inform them about upcoming shows, so they go. Showcase your newest merchandise, so they wear it. And to like, follow and join your social media networks so you can keep them informed and connected.

Most of you looking for a record deal have no idea that labels place a lot of weight on your mailing and social lists. Why? Because they know if you can get 2,000 people to follow you on your nothing budget than their $500,000 check would get exponentially more fans interested, which leads to more money.

Even those of you who want to make it on your own have no idea the power of an email list. That list is a great way to keep your fans coming to shows and buying into your brand. It is also a great selling tool to help you get money from sponsors who want to put a link on your site, a banner at your show, or a tattoo on your drummer’s forehead. And the more names you have, chances are the larger the paycheck.

Basically put, in today’s marketing world the email list is gold, so you have to work hard to get people to join it.

Remember it is a business transaction and every exchange with a consumer (even when there is no money involved) requires you to give them something for their currency, even if that currency is their email. Offer them a few free tracks, a free concert ticket, a chance to win something cool and there is a greater chance they will join your cause.

Never underestimate the power of consumer information and the email list is a great way to get it.

Do This When You Play Live to Elevate Your Music Career



Look like you care. Play your best show even if the room is empty.

Part of my job is to hit up clubs and bars and check out bands. Now I am not looking to give you a record deal or finance your musical dreams. I am a booking agent, and before we book a band we always check you out live. If you pique our interests, and we have a spot, one little visit could lead to a lot of money and exposure for your group.

It happened the other night. I was at a big name show and afterwards popped my head into a local bar. I caught an amazing band who had a great product. They looked good, they played good, they had video, they were having fun. So I said to myself “I am going to book them”. Less than a week later I had another group drop out of a big gig and bada-boom that group I had found landed a show making more money than they were used to in a new market that could lead to future gigs and more fans for their tunes.

Unfortunately, this is not the norm in our industry.

I watch a lot of bands… a lot. And I am surprised at how many are just up on stage for the paycheck. The singer is giving it half her range, the guitarist is half-drunk and the drummer is clearly thinking about what he is going to eat at Taco Bell later. The room is dead, because nobody is entertained by boring.

As a former touring musician myself, I understand your pain. It is tough to look like you care when you are tired, the room’s dead, and you have played the same songs a billion times. It can be tough to dig yourself out of that ditch. But you have too because you never know who is watching and what they could do for you.

So what can you do to get that “oomph” back in your show?

Learn some new tunes: This is the quickest fix. If you feel like you are playing the same set-list night in and night out, then maybe it’s time to throw in some new songs to liven things up. Sometimes all it takes is one or two extra tunes to bring the bassist back from the dead.

Don’t play as much: This might be a tough one to swallow, but it is true, especially if you play in the same market. Ever heard the old adage “to much of a good thing”. Well, if you play the same two bars night after night, that is certainly the case for your fans and for you. Industry pro, Rick Barker, says it best in his book The $150,000 Music Degree, by doing this “you are damaging the demand for your product, which is weakening your business leverage against the venue.” Try cutting back your gigs, even if it is for a couple weeks and see if you get a better reaction from your fans and the band. If that doesn’t work, or it scares you because you need the money, it might be time to investigate new markets. Quite honestly, if your plans are to gain the exposure you need to be doing that anyway. Unless you are in New York, Nashville, or LA playing in the same zip code night after night will not get you on the radar of industry gatekeepers.

Mess with your mind: Nope, not talking about smoking three joints before you hit the stage, I am talking about psychology. I used to have a trick that worked. From behind the kit I would pick out a face in the audience that I didn’t know and convince myself they were a big-shot and could help advance my career. 90% of the time it worked and I played a little bit better.

Those are just a few suggestions. I encourage you to try your own. The point is that your live performance is vital to your career, no matter what you are trying to achieve musically. I know that, 90% of the time, A&R scouts will need to see a band live before presenting a group to their label. Managers and booking agents, such as myself, need to make sure that you can hold a crowd. This is extremely important in today’s market, where live performances are needed to make up for the loss of recording sales, and this will only gain more importance as the market continues to shift towards streaming consumption.

So bottom line, you need to put on a great show every single night, no matter how many people are in the room, how they are reacting, or how you feel. This is a part of being a music professional and a vital component that will separate those who make it in this industry from those who end up asking if “you want fries with that”.